OnVideo: AUGUST's Top Movies
ALOHAA celebrated military contractor (Bradley Cooper) returns to the site of his greatest career triumphs -- Honolulu, Hawaii -- and reconnects with a long-ago love (Rachel McAdams) while unexpectedly falling for the hard-charging Air Force watchdog (Emma Stone) assigned to him.
Director: Cameron Crowe. Stars: Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, Jay Baruchel, Bill Murray, John Krasinski, Danny McBride, Alec Baldwin. 2015, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 105 min., Romantic Comedy, Box office gross: $20.991 million, Sony. Extras: "The Untitled Hawaii Project: The Making of Aloha" feature length documentary; cast gag reel. Blu-ray adds original opening; alternate ending; deleted scenes; four featurettes: "The Awe of Space," "Mitchell's Film," "Ledward Kaapana: Music Is Everything," "Uncle Bumpy"; photo gallery, commentary by writer-director Cameron Crowe. Available: 08/25.
CHILD 44After a friend's son is found dead, Soviet secret-police officer Leo Demidov (Tom Hardy) suspects his superiors are covering up the truth. When Leo dares to raise questions, he's demoted and exiled to a provincial outpost with his wife (Noomi Rapace). There, Leo soon discovers other mysterious deaths with similar circumstances and convinces his new boss (Gary Oldman) that a deranged serial killer is on the loose -- and must be stopped before he strikes again.
Director: Daniel Espinosa. Stars: Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Noomi Rapace, Joel Kinnaman, Paddy Considine, Jason Clarke, Vincent Cassel. 2015, CC, MPAA rating: R, 137 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $1.224 million, Summit Entertainment/Lionsgate. Extras: "Reflections of History" featurette. Available: 08/04.
CITIZENFOURThe critically acclaimed 2014 Academy Award-winner for Best Documentary is one of the most influential and timely documentary films in recent history. Just as the controversial U.S. Patriot Act was to expire on May 31, 2015 the U.S. Senate voted to pass the U.S. House version of the USA Freedom Act, the successor to the Patriot Act, which saw three of its major sections end, one of which was the mass surveillance of all Americans. Shortly thereafter, President Obama signed the bill into law. Edward Snowden and the events documented in "Citizenfour" were a powerful catalyst in calling attention to the unlawful surveillance of Americans by their government. "Citizenfour" is a real life international thriller that unfolds by the minute. With unprecedented access, this behind-the-scenes chronicle follows award winning director Laura Poitras -- previously nominated for "My Country, My Country" and journalist Glenn Greenwald's remarkable encounters with whistleblower Edward Snowden in a Hong Kong hotel room as he hands over classified documents that provide evidence of mass indiscriminate and illegal invasions of privacy by the National Security Agency (NSA). The film not only shows the dangers of governmental surveillance, but also makes audiences feel them. After seeing the film, viewers will never think the same way about their phone, email, credit cards, web browser or digital footprint again.
Director: Laura Poitras. 2014, CC, MPAA rating: R, 114 min., Documentary, Box office gross: $2.799 million, Radius/Anchor Bay. Extras: Bonus scenes; New York Times talk with Laura Poitras, Glenn Greenwald, Edward Snowden and David Carr; Film Society of Lincoln Center Q&A with Laura Poitras; "The Program" New York Times Op-Doc by Laura Poitras. Available: 08/25.
THE DIVERGENT SERIES: INSURGENTThe second film in the "Divergent" franchise raises the stakes for Tris as she searches for allies and answers in the ruins of a futuristic Chicago. Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) are now fugitives on the run, hunted by Jeanine (Kate Winslet), the leader of the power-hungry Erudite elite. Racing against time, they must find out what Tris's family sacrificed their lives to protect, and why the Erudite leaders will do anything to stop them. Haunted by her past choices but desperate to protect the ones she loves, Tris, with Four at her side, faces one impossible challenge after another as they unlock the truth about the past and ultimately the future of their world.
Director: Robert Schwentke. Stars: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Miles Teller, Maggie Q, Kate Winslet, Ansel Elgort, Zoe Kravitz, Naomi Watts, Octavia Spencer. 2015, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 119 min., Action-Adventure, Box office gross: $128.384 million, Lionsgate. Available: 08/04.
DO YOU BELIEVE?A dozen different souls -- all moving in different directions, all longing for something more. As their lives unexpectedly intersect, they each are about to discover there is power in the Cross of Christ ... even if they don’t yet believe it. When a local pastor is shaken to the core by the visible faith of an old street-corner preacher, he is reminded that true belief always requires action. His response ignites a faith-fueled journey that powerfully impacts everyone it touches in ways that only God could orchestrate.
Director: Jonathan M. Gunn. Stars: Mira Sorvino, Sean Astin, Alexa PenaVega, Delroy Lindo, Andrea Logan White, Cybill Shepherd, Lee Majors, Ted McGinley, Brian Bosworth. 2014, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 115 min., Drama, Box office gross: $12.985 million, Pure Flix Ent. Available: 08/04.
FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWDBased on the literary classic by Thomas Hardy, "Far From the Madding Crowd" is the story of independent, beautiful and headstrong Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan), who attracts three very different suitors: Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoenaerts), a sheep farmer, captivated by her fetching willfulness; Frank Troy (Tom Sturridge), a handsome and reckless Sergeant; and William Boldwood (Michael Sheen), a prosperous and mature bachelor. This timeless story of Bathsheba's choices and passions explores the nature of relationships and love -- as well as the human ability to overcome hardships through resilience and perseverance.
Director: Thomas Vinterberg. Stars: Carey Mulligan, Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Sheen, Tom Sturridge, Juno Temple. 2015, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 119 min., Dtama, Box office gross: $11.611 million, Fox. Available: 08/04.
HOT PURSUITAn uptight and by-the-book cop (Reese Witherspoon) tries to protect the sexy and outgoing widow (Sofía Vergara) of a drug boss as they race through Texas, pursued by crooked cops and murderous gunmen.
Director: Anne Fletcher. Stars: Reese Witherspoon, Sofía Vergara, John Carroll Lynch, Robert Kazinsky. 2015, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 87 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $34.529 million, Warner. Extras: "The Womance" on-set crazy-mashup-antics with the stars. Blu-ray adds "Say What?" featurette in which the stars try to speak the other's language, "Action Like A Lady" montage of funny action bits, alternate ending. Available: 08/11.
IRISDocumentary pairs legendary 87-year-old documentarian Albert Maysles with Iris Apfel, the quick-witted, flamboyantly dressed 93-year-old style maven who has had an outsized presence on the New York fashion scene for decades. More than a fashion film, the documentary is a story about creativity and how a soaring free spirit continues to inspire. "Iris" portrays a singular woman whose enthusiasm for fashion, art and people are life's sustenance and reminds us that dressing, and indeed life, is nothing but an experiment. Despite the abundance of glamour in her current life, she continues to embrace the values and work ethic established during a middle-class Queens upbringing during the Great Depression. "I feel lucky to be working. If you're lucky enough to do something you love, everything else follows."
Director: Albert Maysles. 2015, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 80 min., Documentary, Box office gross: $1.263 million, Magnolia Home Entertainment. Extras: Extended interview with Apfel, deleted scenes. Available: 08/25.
LITTLE BOYHeartwarming film about a little boy who is willing to do whatever it takes to bring his father home from World War II captures the wonder of life through the eyes of a 7-year-old child and reminds us of the power of faith, hope and love in the face of adversity.
Director: Alejandro Monteverde. Stars: Jakob Salvati, Emily Watson, Michael Rapaport, Tom Wilkinson, Kevin James. 2015, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 107 min., Drama, Box office gross: $6.485 million, Universal. Extras Deleted scenes, "Sneak Attack" animated short. Available: 08/18.
THE 100 YEAR OLD MAN WHO CLIMBED OUT THE WINDOW AND DISAPPEAREDThe highest-grossing Swedish film of all time. Based on the international bestseller of the same name by Jonas Jonasson, which has sold more than 6 million copies worldwide. The tale of centenarian Allan Karlsson (Robert Gustafson), a man who has spent his long and colorful life working in the munitions industry while getting entangled in historic events from the Spanish Civil War to the Manhattan Project. Finding himself stuck in a nursing home and determined to escape on his 100th birthday, Allan leaps out of a window and onto the nearest bus, kicking off an unexpected escapade involving, among other surprises, a suitcase stuffed with cash, some wicked criminals, and an elephant named Sonya. Like an unruly Nordic cousin of Forrest Gump, "The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared" offers Allan's present-day exploits alongside flashbacks of his youthful adventures, with his passion for explosives attracting the attention of everyone from Joseph Stalin to Robert Oppenheimer to Ronald Reagan. Allan's adventures of yesterday and today weave together into a delicious treat. In English and Swedish with English subtitles.
Director: Felix Herngren. Stars: Robert Gustafsson, Iwar Wiklander, David Wiberg, Mia Skaringer, Jens Hulten, Alan Ford. 2015 -- Sweden, CC, MPAA rating: R, 115 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $.838 million, Music Box Films. Extras: Making-of featurette, cast and crew interviews, trailer. Available: 08/18.
TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHTOscar winner Marion Cotillard ("La vie en rose") received another nomination for her searing, deeply felt performance as a working-class woman desperate to hold on to her factory job, in this gripping film from master Belgian directors Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne. Cotillard is Sandra, a wife and mother who suffers from depression and discovers that, while she was home on sick leave, a majority of her co-workers voted in favor of her being fired rather than give up their annual bonuses. She then spends a Saturday and Sunday visiting them each in turn, to try to convince them to change their minds. From this simple premise, the Dardennes render a powerful, humanist drama about the importance of community in an increasingly impersonal world. In French with English subtitles.
Director: Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne. Stars: Marion Cotillard, Fabrizio Rongione, Catherine Salee, Batiste Sornin. 2014 -- France, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 95 min., Drama, Box office gross: $1.433 million, The Criterion Collection. Formats: DVD, Blu-ray Disc. Extras: New interviews with the Dardennes and actors Marion Cotillard and Fabrizio Rongione; "When Leon M.'s Boat Went Down the Meuse for the First Time" (1979), a 45 minute documentary by the Dardennes, featuring a new introduction by the directors; new tour of the film's key locations with the directors; trailer; an essay by critic Girish Shambu. Available: 08/25.
UNFRIENDEDFrom the producers of "The Purge" and "Ouija" and the director of "Wanted" comes an original thriller where a seemingly innocent prank starts a sequence of events that spirals out of control. "Unfriended" unfolds over a teenager's computer screen as she and her friends are stalked by an unseen figure who seeks vengeance for a shaming video that led a vicious bully to kill herself. On the anniversary of the shocking suicide, the very same friends who thought there would be no consequences to their actions will find out just how deadly wrong they are.
Director: Levan Gabriadze. Stars: Courtney Halverson, Shelley Henning, Renee Olstead, Will Peltz, Heather Sossaman, Moses Jacob Storm. 2015, CC, MPAA rating: R, 83 min., Horror, Box office gross: $32,482 million, Universal. Available: 08/11.
All DVDs and Blu-rays are screened on a reference system consisting of an Oppo BDP-83 Universal Blu-ray Player, a Rotel RSX-972 Surround Sound Receiver, and Phase Technology 1.1 (front), 33.1 (center), and 50 (rear) speakers and Power 10 subwoofer.
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August 1, 2015